Dr. Pamela Catton and Audrey Jusko Friedman

Pam-and-Audrey1Patient and Family Education and Cancer Survivorship, University Health Network

Dr. Pamela Catton and Audrey Jusko Friedman of Toronto, Ontario created the Patient and Family Education Program at Princess Margaret Cancer Centre. Together, their pioneering work in the field of patient engagement (PE) has brought national recognition to the need for high-quality, patient-centred education tools that are based on best practices and accessible to consumers.

In 1999, Pamela hired Audrey to lead the charge for the establishment of a hospital-wide Patient and Family Education Program at the Princess Margaret Cancer Centre, the first comprehensive patient education program in the province. With a strong focus on patient-centred learning and self-management education, this corporate program contributes to improved health outcomes, including the quality of and satisfaction with care, and responds to the desire of patients and their families to be active partners in their health care journey. In 2011, Audrey assumed the role of Director of Patient and Family Education, and Pamela, Medical Director, for all University Health Network (UHN) hospitals.

As a Radiation Oncologist, Pamela had observed little support to help people living with the post-treatment effects of cancer. Determined to change the way supportive and clinical services for cancer survivors were delivered in Ontario, she (with the support of the Princess Margaret Cancer Foundation and a grant from the Canadian Foundation for Innovation) led the establishment of a Survivorship Program at the Cancer Centre, and subsequently the establishment of ELLICSR, a health and wellness cancer survivorship research centre dedicated to revolutionizing the cancer experience through collaborative efforts between Princess Margaret’s Patient Education and Survivorship departments. This program aims to: 1) Optimize the health and well-being of people with cancer and their families; 2) Empower patients and families to become experts in the management of their own symptoms, health and wellness along the entire trajectory of care; 3) Integrate effective patient education into novel models of care delivery; 4) Harness the power of communities to drive and accelerate innovation in survivorship programming and clinical services; and 5) Make meaningful contributions to survivorship research.

Audrey has also had a profound impact on patient-centred care at the University Health Network and beyond. A champion of patient education initiatives both nationally and internationally, she was the first non-US chair of the National Cancer Institute’s Cancer Patient Education Network, and she established the Canadian Cancer Patient Education Network to bring together cancer educators from across the country to discuss, develop and implement best practices in patient  and family education services. She also led the provincial patient education strategy for Ontario and has served as Provincial Head of Patient Education for 10 years. Collaborating with UHN and Cancer Care Ontario, Audrey helped develop an exciting innovation for improving health care provider patient teaching and communication competencies called “Maximizing PE Skills”. This multiple award-winning curriculum has been implemented across Canada and the US and was recently adapted by the DeSouza Institute into e-learning for health care professionals.

Collectively, Pamela and Audrey’s work has led to sustained patient-centred change in the health care system. Their combined leadership has also contributed to greater awareness and availability of PE across the country, including the development of quality standards for PE programs and resources. These two women have truly established the field of PE in Canada.

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DYK: 29% of Ontarians are #caregivers? Read more in our report, A Profile of Family Caregivers: bit.ly/295FkUS